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Can you copyright a URL? Copyright

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by btwilson86, Jul 3, 2008.

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  1. btwilson86

    btwilson86 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I recently have been selling listings on eBay that inform buyers of a URL where they can access information about building HHO (Brown's Gas) Systems. This URL is accessible by anyone that takes the time to search for it; there are no user names, logging in, or anything like that.

    This URL is the same one that the owner of the work(s) available uses to provide buyers access to download his information.

    I understand that if I was selling the .pdf files themselves it's obviously copyright infringement, but is it illegal for me to be selling the location of a publically-accessible website?

    I was contacted by a lawyer today saying that I am stealing their property, violating copyright laws, and could be convicted of fraud for providing this link since I do not own it. Because of this, he wants me to forfeit all profits I have made, and threatened to take me to court if I don't send them the money.

    He gave me until Monday to contact him as I said I wanted to get advice from an unbiased third party.

    Can anyone help shed some light on this?
     
  2. presutin

    presutin Moderator

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    A registered domain is the property of a company or person who registered it in the first place and paid to have it. Unless you have a disclaimer on your ebay site indicating that you have asked and obtained permission to provide such address to the general public, then you should not be selling the address in your postings. As far as the claim by the attorney, I would consult with an attorney where you are at and have him verify that the person who has contacted you is legit and also, to help you with the legal lingo to get you out of this mess without any major financial damages on your end. Good Luck!
     
  3. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Presutin - I hear where you are coming from but how is selling the URL any different than selling a book of publicly available information, e.g. the physical address of a company? In this instance, if a person says "I have the telephone number for a company you can buy gas for 2 cents less per gallon" then I don't foresee a copyright or trademark problem. I'm wondering whether the company isn't happy that someone is selling information on ebay and they feel like their mark is "tarnished" - but I don't see how such information gathering and selling is wrong or should be - if I understand the facts correctly.
     
  4. guestpost

    guestpost New Member

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    Not sure who this claimed legal advice is but if you go to the specifics of the law, the answer is as follows:

    "Can I copyright my domain name?
    Copyright law does not protect domain names. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a nonprofit organization that has assumed the responsibility for domain name system management, administers the assignation of domain names through accredited registers."

    Thanks

    This is taken from the following website -http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html
     
  5. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    The reason why copyright law doesn't protect domain names is for the reason I described - it doesn't protect home addresses either, which is what a domain name is online. It is merely a location point. To provide someone protection on an item necessary for our communication functions is contrary to copyright law.
     
  6. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    I'm not certain I agree with the statement that providing a URL is like providing an address. The phone book is simply a name and address reference. It does not make recommendations to go look at a house, take photos of it, take design ideas from it, etc. If someone other than the copyright holder is using a URL to recommend opening that URL for a specific purpose, which is an advantage to the non-copyright holder, then that appears to be a violation of the intent of the copyright.
     

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